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05/19/10 7:34 PM ET

Brewers have options in Hoffman's absence

PITTSBURGH -- The easy part for Brewers manager Ken Macha and pitching coach Rick Peterson was giving struggling closer Trevor Hoffman at least a two-day break. Now comes the hard part: Finding someone else to do the job.

It appears the leading candidate is another changeup specialist, right-hander Carlos Villanueva.

"I don't think it's a secret that 'Villa' is the guy who has thrown the ball the most consistently down there," Macha said. "That's going to have a little weight to us. Let's see where we are in the game."

Hoffman was not the only struggling member of a Brewers bullpen that entered Wednesday's game at PNC Park with a 6.25 ERA, 29th of the 30 Major League teams, ahead of Arizona's 7.98. Hoffman's ERA is 13.25 after he surrendered three runs on Tuesday in his fifth blown save, a 5-4 loss to the Reds in Cincinnati.

Macha said he would not use Hoffman in either of the Brewers' two games against the Pirates, and the leading backup entering the season -- LaTroy Hawkins -- is on the disabled list with a shoulder injury and expected to linger there past Saturday, when he's eligible to return. Hawkins saved 11 games for the Astros last season while closer Jose Valverde was injured.

The only other Brewers reliever with significant closing experience is right-hander Todd Coffey, who saved 24 games between Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Louisville in 2004 and has since logged 11 saves in the Majors. But Coffey has traditionally struggled against left-handed hitters, who have hit him at a .319 clip in his career.

Villanueva entered Wednesday's game with a 3.05 ERA in 19 appearances, a .182 batting average against and 27 strikeouts in 20 2/3 innings this season.

Macha would not commit to a timeline for Hoffman's return to the closer's role, or whether he would return to that role at all.

"This isn't just a focus on Trevor Hoffman," Macha said. "We have some other things that have to get straight, too."

Gomez, Gamel on the mend for Brewers

PITTSBURGH -- Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez began his Minor League rehabilitation assignment on Wednesday, but infield prospect Mat Gamel's will have to wait.

Things have not gone Gamel's way for much of the past calendar year, and his bad luck continued on Wednesday, when he was scratched from the lineup at Class A Advanced Brevard County because of an illness. Gamel, who has been on the disabled list all season with a slightly torn muscle behind his throwing shoulder, will try again on Thursday.

Gomez had better luck, going 1-for-3 with a single and a stolen base for Class A Wisconsin in the first test of his injured left shoulder. He is scheduled to start for the Timber Rattlers again on Thursday and, barring a setback, will then be activated by the Brewers ahead of Friday's Interleague Game against the Twins.

"He's on track to be there," Brewers manager Ken Macha said.

Gomez has not played since May 5, when he strained the rotator cuff in his left shoulder.

Another rehabbing Brewer, reliever David Riske, pitched a scoreless inning for Brevard County on Wednesday in his third outing since Tommy John elbow surgery last June. Riske threw seven of his 13 pitches for strikes and sat in the 89-91-mph range, while allowing one walk with one strikeout.

Worth noting

PITTSBURGH -- Brewers manager Ken Macha will wait until Thursday to announce whether lefty Manny Parra will get a second start on Sunday. "I'm leaning towards yes," Macha said. The decision will come down to Parra or right-hander Marco Estrada, who debuted on Tuesday with four scoreless innings for the Brewers in relief of Parra. Macha believes that Estrada could be a valuable addition to what has been a shaky bullpen. In his first start of the season, Parra allowed one run on four hits in four innings against the Reds. ... Milwaukee's ESPN Radio affiliate will host the Pitch, Hit & Run skills competition at Helfaer Field on the Miller Park grounds on Sunday from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. CT, a free event for 7-14 year olds. All participants must bring a copy of their birth certificate and fill out a registration/waiver form prior to the start of the competition. ... Outfield prospect Caleb Gindl was placed on the temporary inactive list at Double-A Huntsville on Wednesday because of a health issue in his family. He was replaced on the active roster by outfielder Lee Haydel, who had been on the disabled list.

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.